Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302


the Inland Register

(From the June 9, 2011 edition of the Inland Register)

Sister Mary Esther Becker OP

Dominican Sister Mary Esther Becker (right), age 92, a resident of Chewelah, Wash., passed away on May 14, 2011 at St. Joseph Long Term Care in Chewelah.

A rosary for Sister Mary Esther took place on May 20, followed by the funeral Mass the next day. Both were at Immaculate Conception Church, Colville, Wash. Burial was at Holy Cross Cemetery, Spokane, also on May 21.

She was born Oct. 16, 1918, in Oberwuerzbach, Germany. She attended school in Germany and then moved to the United States as a young Religious. She traveled across the United Stated by train from New York to Kettle Falls, Wash, where she made her first profession of vows in 1939 at Our Lady of the Valley Convent.

Sister Mary Esther then attended a three-year nursing education at the Sacred Heart Nursing School. She worked as a registered nurse and CRNA in several of her community’s hospitals, including St. Martin Hospital in Tonasket, Wash.; St. Mary Hospital, Conrad, Mont.; St. Joseph Hospital, Chewelah, Wash.; and Mount Carmel Hospital in Colville.

For several years, Sister Mary Esther served as an administrator at both St. Joseph and Mount Carmel Hospitals. Her longest tenure of service was at Mount Carmel Hospital, where she ministered for 33 years and served her final role as a Patient Advocate.

Sister Mary Esther retired in 2002 and moved to the Dominican Center in Spokane. Due to her gradually deteriorating health, she moved to Kimberly Cottage, a care center in Spokane.

In May of 2010 she transferred to St. Joseph’s Long Term Care in Chewelah.

Sister Mary Esther was preceded in death by her parents and sisters in Germany.

Memorial contributions may be given to DominiCare, St. Joseph’s Long Term Care, or the donor’s charity of choice. An on-line memorial and guestbook can be found at:

Sister Sheila (John Julia) Casey OSF

Sister Sheila Casey of the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia died in Assisi House in As-ton, Pa., on May 14. She had been a professed member of the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia for 61 years.

All services were held in Assisi House, 600 Red Hill Road, on May 18. A Christian Wake Service began at 9:30 a.m. The Funeral Mass was celebrated at 11 a.m. Burial was at Our Lady of Angels Cemetery in Aston.

Sister Sheila was born in Knocknour, County Cork, Ireland. She entered the congregation in 1949 and professed her first vows in 1951.

Sister Sheila’s years in ministry began at Blessed Sacrament Convent in Trenton, New Jersey, and over the years her ministry included education, child care, parish ministry, healthcare, and domestic service, including time in the Archdioceses of Seattle and Portland, the Diocese of Baker, Ore., and the Spokane Diocese, where she ministered at St. Charles Convent and St. Joseph Children’s Home in Spokane.

After her retirement, Sister Sheila moved to the east coast, where she ministered at Our Lady of Angels Convent for five years. In 2007 she moved to Assisi House, where she served in prayer ministry until her death.

Memorial donations can be made to the Sisters of St. Francis Foundation, 609 S. Convent Road, Aston, PA 19014.

Sister Mary Elizabeth (Vida Maria) Dunton SNJM

Holy Names Sister Elizabeth Dunton died May 23 in Spokane. She was 96 years old.

The funeral Mass was May 26 at the Convent of the Holy Names in Spokane.

Mary Elizabeth Dunton was born July 6, 1914, in Seattle. After her elementary and secondary school education at St. James, Immaculate and Holy Names Academy in 1932 in Seattle, Mary entered the novitiate of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary at Marylhurst, Ore. She pronounced her vows in 1934. She continued her formal education, earning a degree in violin from Marylhurst College and a master’s degree in music Education from the University of Washington.

She went on to serve as music teacher in the schools of Washington and Oregon for 25 years. She was a college administrator at Fort Wright College, Spokane, for 17 years and founded and directed the Fort Wright College Historical Museum during that time.

After the College closed, she became a licensed Real Estate sales person and property manager in Washington State.

At the request of Fort Wright Center, Sister Mary returned to open the Durocher Bed and Breakfast, which operated successfully until the Fort Wright campus was sold to the Japanese owned Mukagawa Institute.

Sister Mary was Director of the Archives for the Washington Province of her community, conserving and preserving the historical heritage of the Sisters of the Holy Names.

Her passion was creative writing and publishing books to promote the educational charism of the Sisters.

Her long music career and commitment to education were her credentials as chairman of the Washington State Arts Commission and of the Ten Western States Alliance for the Arts and as board member of the Maryhill Museum of the Arts in Oregon.

Memorial gifts may be made to the Sisters of the Holy Names Retirement Fund., 2911 W. Fort Wright Dr., Spokane, WA 99224.

Arthur C. Mertens

Arthur C. Mertens, ordained a priest of the Spokane Diocese May 26, 1949, died May 15 at Hospice House in Spokane at the age of 87.

The funeral Mass was celebrated May 21 at Sacred Heart Church, Spokane. Entombment of cremated remains will take place at a later date.

He was born April 8, 1924, in Mansfield, Wash., and grew up there and in Spokane Valley before entering St. Edward Seminary, Kenmore, Wash., as a freshman in high school.

He served as an assistant pastor at St. Augustine and Sacred Heart parishes, Spokane, and was Diocesan Director of the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine before he was appointed pastor of St. Rose of Lima Parish, Cheney, in 1957.

In July 1961 he began his 15-year assignment in the diocesan mission in Guatemala.

He was elevated to monsignor as a prelate of honor in 1974, and in 1977 began ministry with the Charismatic Renewal and study in Dallas, Texas.

Mertens returned to the diocese as part of the pastoral team serving the parishes in Pasco, Connell and Eltopia in 1978, and became spiritual director for the English language Cursillo movement in 1980. At the same time he was named associate pastor of St. Francis Xavier Parish, Spokane.

In 1981 he moved to St. Patrick Parish, Walla Walla, as pastor.

He retired from ministry June 1, 1989.

In July 2002, he was removed from ministry, according to the requirements of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, because of credible accusations of child sexual abuse.

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